SPIRe Seminar Week 7: ‘The Gender Dimensions of Consociational Democracy’

SPIRe’s week four seminar will feature SPIRe PhD Student Ronan Kennedy, this Thursady (Nov. 7th), 1-2pm in G317 speaking on  ‘The Gender Dimensions of Consociational Democracy’.


Consociational democracy, as first theorized by Arend Lijphart, has arguably
become the most influential paradigm in the field of post-conflict institutional
design and conflict management in ethno-nationally divided societies. The
premise of this form of governance is that institutional representation is
mandated for formerly conflictual groups, proportionality in terms of electoral
representation and civil service appointments is guaranteed and autonomy for
cultural affairs of segmental groups, maintained. Thus, consociationalism
attempts ensure stability and the opportunity for actors to transform previously
violent conflict into political discourse by ensuring proportional political
representation for formerly marginalized groups. Despite this,
consociationalism has a poor track record representing identities that fall
outside of the dominant conflictual paradigm. It is my intention in this paper to
explore how the institutionalisation and operation of consociational democracy
as a tool of ethno-national conflict resolution, has impacted effective political
engagement for women. I wish to argue that the divergence between an
emerging and established normative discourses on women’s representation in
post conflict institutions (as exemplified by UNSCR1325 and more recently
UNSCR2122) and ethno-national power-sharing (liberal consociationalism)
has not been adequately addressed at level of theory or practice. I further
argue that the remedying of the types of exclusion that the consociational
model may create and/or institutionalise is justified by the foundational logic of
the consociationalism itself1 and this may require special institutional and
legislative approaches.

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